Craft of Writing: Does Our Hard Work Pay Off?

Authors are a funny bunch of people. We write alone, unless we work together on a group project. Then we swoon over covers—unless they are yucky- then hear us be crabby. We love sharing excerpts; we want to be the Kings and Queens of Tease! But more importantly, we try our best to make people want to pick up our books. The only thing we wonder is—does our hard work pay off, or are we often just talking to hear ourselves talk? Sometimes, we need feedback from the people who matter most- our readers! 

I’m writing this, because honestly, it’s a discussion that’s come up between authors. We promo, we write more books, we do giveaways, we do massive group contests and more. We even go on various loops, Facebook groups and other things, but we don’t always have people attend. We wonder if people are overloaded with everyday issues that they don’t want to hear from us or about our latest books. We wonder what promotion works best. Time and again, we see the big stars of the publishing world have out television ads, book signings and more. Yet, do they work? Does going to conferences work?

One thing I know works to attract attention is a great cover with a fantastic blurb. Why? It gets attention when people are on third party websites shopping for books. Trust me, I’m guilty of this and I know many others who do the same. We find a category of book we’re interested in and we look at covers, we look at blurbs and see what pulls at us. Sometimes, we’ll even read a snippet or two of the book to see if the writing style grabs us. If it doesn’t, back it goes. If the cover looks too cartoonish when it should look sexy or look like a fantasy come to life, back it goes. Cover art is a huge discussion among readers and authors—both good and bad. If you ever want to generate an interesting discussion, go to a readers/authors forum and ask, “What covers suck? What covers rock? What company always does great work? What company needs to get better?” Then sit back and watch the fireworks. It can be quite interesting to see what attracts readers to buy a book. Same for authors—and don’t think they’re the same thing.

Plus, I love marketing- I do. But sometimes marketing people don’t know who their target audience is, especially now that many books are crossing genre. Many women don’t want to see naked asses all the time, no matter how erotic the story. They’d like to see truly erotic covers that make them hot and think erotic thoughts. So, we have to really work hand in hand with the art department to not only bring out the best of our story, but do so in a way that is unique and eye-catching, but not trite or overdone by others. Then we have to work to make people want to buy our books, so they sell and people talk about our books, which increase sales and our name recognition among readers and those who might occasionally read in the genre we write. 

Social media is everywhere. Because of this, it’s easier yet harder to always talk to people about our new releases. Sometimes you can still have fun on the email loop groups such as Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, but at others times, you can party on Facebook, Twitter and more. But how much is good and when is it enough?  It’s great when you can connect with readers and share snippets of your latest release or what you’re working on next, but there is the thought of trying to avoid over-sharing. So, I ask you, reader—how much is too much? What is the best way to reach you? Newsletter, email loop group, Facebook, or how? What is the format you prefer to talk to an author? When do you think you’re hearing too much from an author? Or when do you think you need to hear more? 

Other authors swear by giveaways, contests and more of the like. They say they get readers and keep them by this method. Others are disdainful because it requires outlays that not every author can afford to do on a regular basis. Yet, trust me, authors like to give things away at times because we love rewarding readers for loyalty and for giving us a try. So it’s a matter of balance- trying to find out how often, what kind of goodies go over best and when is the best time to offer such contests to readers. Which kinds do you find work best for you? What contests do you like entering? 

I love collecting excerpts. I do. Why? Because I have this pile of books I need to read. Sometimes I forget the name of the book I want, but I remember the general gist of the excerpt. So I keep it in a special file so I can look it up when I can go buy books. That way, I can buy the books that I really want and then delete the excerpt once I get it. Plus, there’s something about an excerpt that gives me a great feel for an author’s writing, just like when I visit their website. Sometimes, I don’t always have time to go to their website all the time, or I don’t remember the website addy. But if I have the excerpt and all the pertinent info is on there—I can get it from there. These are always important things to have. What about you? Are you a lover of excerpts or are they one of those things you can ignore? What kind of excerpts get you excited? 

Do you like sales? If people offer you coupons to use for discounts off books, does that help you to buy the books at certain websites or are you a dedicated shopper specific to certain 3rd party websites? I know people who shop on those sites and others who only buy through the publishers’ sites. Neither way is wrong or right- it all depends on the person and their needs. What is your preferred method of shopping for books and ebooks?

Do you think we sometimes do too much when it comes to pushing our work? Do you think sometimes we need to lay back and relax? Or do you think that perhaps we need to work smarter about getting ourselves out there and noticed by you, the readers and others who might want to pick up a new book by someone they’ve not read before? When it comes to representing your work before the world—the question becomes—have I done enough or have I pushed too much? Sometimes it makes an author go mad, I tell you, absolutely batty. Can you tell I’m about there all ready? 

4 thoughts on “Craft of Writing: Does Our Hard Work Pay Off?”

  • Maggie Nash says:

    Personally I think the best way to get your name out there is to write more books. People do get sick of constant promo, and dare I say, some find it off putting. Being present is good. That is, being yourself and interacting so that people get to know you is good too. But at the end of the day, it’s more books that will do it for us in my opinion.

    I am struggling with this at the moment myself, but I recognize that it’s probably the best way to have people notice you. Lots of good books. Emphasis on the good!

    So my dream is to be able to find enough energy and time to get all the stories that constantly run around in my head out and into lots of lovely books and become a mega popular and uber rich author! LOL

  • I like your excerpt file idea – I will have to start one myself! When I’m looking for a book, genre is my first consideration. After that, though, it’s hard to pin down a single factor that leads me to actual purchase. But you’re right – the writing is what will bring me back for more or turn me off for good. If I like an author’s storytelling and writing skills, I can be a very loyal customer.

    • I love keeping excerpts. It’s the easiest way I know to keep a list of books I want. Otherwise, I forget. Wish lists don’t work, at least not long term, the lists are way too long! LOL I get that author’s can have an off book or two, and I’m willing to forgive that, but if they make it a pattern, it’s time to find a new regular author to give my money.

  • Hi fellow “Cyn”! 😉

    I’ve had enough of promoting my work lately and got so frustrated that I wrote a blog to vent about it! If you feel like venting your own frustrations, feel free to vent at:
    http://www.cindyamatthews.com

    It’s good to hear what the readers think about all the promoting, too. Some of it has gone almost too far, IMO, but I’d like to hear some other perspectives on the issue.

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